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So far, we've only chosen parts that were previously issued recommendations by our editors, including an award-winning CPU and motherboard. So, why would we stop there? Quality and cooling helped the NZXT Phantom 410 top our picks of $80 to $120 gaming cases.
We already knew we liked the Phantom 410, so there was really no reason to spend more on a pricier enclosure. Besides, our budget wouldn't have allowed for it anyway.
Top performance and a low price have kept Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe 240 GB on top of our value charts almost since it was introduced. The 240 GB capacity point is large enough for most of us to install all of our programs on fast NAND, leaving big movie files, audio libraries, and image galleries on magnetic media.
We could have spent hours looking for the best mix of capacity and performance for our storage drive, but why bother? We're already looking at a packed budget, and the 240 GB SSD we're using assuages our most pressing worries about space and speed. The point of this add-on is to get as much capacity for bulk storage at as low of a price as possible.
What we really like to see from our mechanical disks is low noise, a cheap price, and longevity. Western Digital’s WD20EURS promises those things with a 5400 RPM spindle and three-year warranty.
Although many folks think of Blu-ray as nothing more than a high-definition video medium, we know that the format is far more flexible. That doesn't mean we don't value the technology's prevalence for delivering high-def video content, though. The last Blu-ray drive we picked didn't come with any software, and we wanted to fix that this time around.
BD-R writes as fast as 12x and DVD-R writes of 16x are par for the course from $90 drives, but software is not. Asus provides the least-expensive package we could find, and we take comfort in the knowledge that the company's reputation for quality includes its optical drive products.